AHIMA Ballot 2020

This page of the Journal of AHIMA website includes the biographies, photographs, and the position statement questions and answers for candidates in each ballot position for the 2020 AHIMA Election.

Position Statement Questions

The AHIMA Nominating Committee asked candidates for the AHIMA President/Chair-elect, Board of Directors, and Speaker-elect to answer the following question:

AHIMA’s mission is empowering people to impact health. How will you utilize your industry experience, governance expertise, and ability to innovate and transform to support AHIMA’s position as a global healthcare association?

Candidates for Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM) Commissioner were asked to answer the following question:

The recognition of CCHIIM-certified professionals’ role in maintaining and enhancing quality health information for the safety of the public and the improvement of healthcare” is a core CCHIIM value. How do you see the Commission supporting this value in the rapidly changing healthcare environment?

The Council for Excellence in Education (CEE) candidates were asked to answer the following question:

How do you feel about the current state of education in HIM, and where do you see the state of HIM in the future?

Casting Your Vote for the Next Leaders in HIM

The candidates’ answers to these questions, biographies, and photos will be available in the AHIMA Ballot at www.ahima.org/vote. Log in to the ballot with your AHIMA ID number and password, then select the AHIMA Election–2020 link to access the ballot. Voters may also review the candidates’ biography, photo, and position statement answers in the AHIMA Membership and Business Community library item: AHIMA Election – 2020 on Engage. The AHIMA election begins Monday, July 13 at 8 a.m. CT and runs through Monday, July 27, 2020 at 5 p.m. CT. All AHIMA members except student members are eligible to vote. Any members with questions should call 1-800-335-5535 or email profession.governance@ahima.org.

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AHIMA Board of Directors,
President/Chair-elect (Select One)

Position Statement Question

AHIMA’s mission is empowering people to impact health. How will you utilize your industry experience, governance expertise, and ability to innovate and transform to support AHIMA’s position as a global healthcare association?


Seth M. Johnson, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA

Seth M. Johnson, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA, lives in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. His wife is a pediatric emergency room nurse, and they have two daughters. Their family loves to travel and love going to Disney World, Disneyland, and going on Disney Cruises. Johnson is excited to continue his service to the HIM industry and profession as a candidate for President/Chair-elect of AHIMA. His involvement with AHIMA started with his local HIM association, continued with his state association, and has taken him to the national level as delegate and committee co-chair. In this time, Johnson has experienced the importance of AHIMA’s membership and the relationships gained through peers and mentors nationwide. He is excited to serve the AHIMA membership as President/Chair-elect.

Position Statement Answer

The members of AHIMA are what make us great. Our relationship to call upon each other when we need help, our knowledge sharing through practice guides and education opportunities sharpen each other and our ability to affect the outcomes of patients through quality information management practices enable AHIMA, as an association, to stand strong as a leading organization. This strength does not exist because of a product or service we sell but as a power of knowledge in the gathering of our members to promote the progression of information management domains. With this recognition of existing strength in our association and my experience as a global healthcare industry consultant, I believe we can forge new relationships in emerging markets desperate for knowledge, education, and relationships with HIM professionals worldwide. Our growth globally will come through empowering people—our colleagues—serving in healthcare settings throughout the world with combined knowledge sharing and promotion of HIM domains established to promote the integrity and quality of information for clinical and business decisions.

Tim J. Keough, MPA, RHIA, FAHIMA

Tim J. Keough, MPA, RHIA, FAHIMA, has been vice president of HIS for the New Jersey Hospital Association since 2006. He serves two roles—to assist members with association needs such as proper coding of COVID-19. The main role is to identify industry needs, create innovative services, and offer solutions to clients. As a member of the Executive team, he has participated in strategic planning and financial management as well as supporting a diverse membership group. Prior roles included divisional director of HIS for large teaching facilities. Keough served twice as CSA President, is currently Finance Chair for the AHIMA Foundation, served on the AHIMA Board from 2016 to 2018 (Executive Board – Secretary), and served several other AHIMA roles (Nominating and Program Committee).

Position Statement Answer

The AHIMA strategic plan has recently undergone significant change to stave off organizational decline and create renewal opportunities. This was a critically important pivot both for AHIMA and its members. How do you empower people to impact health? This reminds me of the adage “no one likes change.” I’ve learned through my professional and volunteer experiences that “no one likes BEING changed.” Business as usual was no longer acceptable. Our CEO and Board pursued a difficult process to change our way of thinking and this included involving and sharing early on with our CSAs, the House of Delegates, and members to have them understand the “WHY” and become a part of the change.

My experiences in diverse job settings in addition to the years I volunteered for my CSA and most recently on the AHIMA Board has instilled in me a keen understanding of the AHIMA company, our member needs, and the healthcare environment. The HIM community represents a second family to me, composed of people that want to help, solve problems, trust each other, and enjoy the process along the way. Empowering people is achieved by engaging members by creating opportunities for them to contribute to our mission. Next, it’s important to bring membership along in the continuum of changing careers and skill sets that align with technology and our environment as in the case of data analytics and artificial intelligence. Health information done properly has a huge impact on promoting health, provided it is managed by experts that understand how it is used, stored, codified, accessed by patients via portals, interpreted, and analyzed.

As President/Chair-elect, my focus would be to enhance the visibility of HIM professionals now and in the future. Further, our HIM practices developed over the years are state-of the-art. AHIMA should continue in its efforts to share this expertise with health providers around the globe to impact health while at the same time generate new sources of revenue to support our AHIMA mission.

AHIMA Board of Directors,
Director (Select Three)

Position Statement Question

AHIMA’s mission is empowering people to impact health. How will you utilize your industry experience, governance expertise, and ability to innovate and transform to support AHIMA’s position as a global healthcare association?


Maria A. Caban Alizondo, MOL, MLC, RHIT, FAHIMA

Maria A. Caban Alizondo, MOL, MLC, RHIT, FAHIMA, is the director of health information management services for UCLA Health System in Los Angeles, CA. She has been president of the California Health Information Association (CHIA), CA Delegate to AHIMA, and Chair of the CHIA Governance Committee and Technology Taskforce. She participated in authoring the AHIMA CDI Toolkit, AHIMA Future of the House Taskforce, and the AHIMA Envisioning Collaborative, and she is a proud AHIMA mentor. Caban Alizondo is passionate about strategic change, leadership, and developing new professionals. She writes and presents frequently on topics that influence the profession, including strategic change management, relational leadership, applied informatics and governance, and operational technology integrations.

Position Statement Answer

Encouraging our community to share their professional experiences, challenges, and best practices supports their ability to advocate for themselves and the profession. This is critical today more than ever, as professional associations adapt to changing workforce demographics and aligning services with professional community needs. I am passionate about implementing strategic change, identifying innovative processes for the professional association that are at once cost-saving and patient-focused. AHIMA is well-positioned to create pathways for HIM professionals to be competitive in the healthcare workforce of the future, by supporting interventions such as new professional mentor-matching, work setting transition support, and leadership development beginning at the CSA and Committee and Task Force level. By building relationships across all boundaries, putting patient service first, and demonstrating the value of our profession to the organization, we have a seat at every table. As a CHIA Board member, I’ve collaborated to align leader development goals with strategies that our Association seeks to accomplish, such as identifying technical experts to lead our Technology Task Force, data analytics experts to assist on our Data Integrity Taskforce, and addressing legislation with the CA State Senator’s office to address release of information changes. This work required us to be adaptive to the needs of our community and develop communication approaches so members understand how these changes drive our future growth. Focusing on the essential requirements of professional advocacy, thoughtful disruption, integrating technical knowledge with leadership practice, and leading strategic change, allows us to continue the discourse and draw our community close so they feel supported and valued, globally and within the association.

Sue O. Clarke-Kendrick, MHA, RHIA

Sue O. Clarke-Kendrick, MHA, RHIA, obtained her RHIA credential in 1999. She has been working in the HIM field since 2000 as a leader in various capacities including director of HIM, HIPAA privacy officer, cancer program administrator, and chair of HIT programs. She is a mentor, has taught and developed HIT programs since 2000, and is currently the chair of HIT programs at Westchester Community College seeking AHIMA accreditation and the director of HIM at Phelps Hospital Northwell Health in Sleepy Hollow, NY. She obtained her MHA with distinction. In addition, she has been an AHIMA-approved ICD-10 Trainer since 2012. Currently, she is the president of Tappan Zee Health Information Management Association local Chapter and education director of the New York Health Information Management Association, and she participates in education and webinar committees of the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

Position Statement Answer

AHIMA’s new mission, “Empowering People to Impact Health,” has placed us in a great position to collectively be change-makers in the industry. My drive and passion as an HIM leader has always been to place our profession, our knowledge, and our experience up front. I have taken an active role for over 21 years to advocate for our profession by understanding the market and help make the right decisions for the organizations I have been a part of, being at the table providing my expertise, developing AHIMA-accredited educational programs to expand our profession, mentoring and teaching students and new professionals, and serving both at local- and state-level boards. As a transformational leader, I embrace this opportunity to assist our profession and AHIMA to be recognized as the leader in the industry and solidify our future.

Julia A. Harshbarger, MS, RHIA

Julia A. Harshbarger, MS, RHIA, has been working for 3M Health Information Systems in enterprise implementation and training for 18 years. She has held many roles and is currently the senior implementation manager over the legacy 3M HIS product implementations. Harshbarger is very active on the Michigan CSA Board and Michigan Health Information Management Association Foundation Silent Auction committee fundraising for student scholarships and awards.

Position Statement Answer

Having the honor to serve on a CSA board and in the House of Delegates for several years, I am familiar with the concerns and interest of our membership. As a leader, I was able to foster effective change at the state level in structure, technology, and culture. As a delegate, I help to collaborate and advocate for the representation that our members need.

In my daily role, I work in an environment that integrates HIM and data/technology. The changes in how data is collected, secured, and turned into business intelligence is continually advancing healthcare practice and our professional role in it. This perpetual change requires the ability to pivot and performance of quality improvement exercises to identify opportunities to provide efficiencies within the business. The strategy and plan to respond to these changes must be well thought out and rooted to the vision and mission of the organization.

These evolving changes and trends are impacting our profession in the tools we use, our ever-changing skill sets and increasing job roles. This requires more than just leadership or the ability to deliver tangible results. There is also the people component along with change management. I have experience in working with many cross functional teams in evaluating the current and future state, developing models and leadership on delivery of change.

Through this experience, I could assist the board with identifying areas of opportunity as well as continuous support of initiatives underway. Through my relationships that I have fostered at the state and local levels, I would advocate and champion the goals of our association down to every level of our membership.

I am focused and a driver of what needs to be done. Through facilitation and collaboration, I would assist in effectively completing assignments.

Robert Mohle, MBA, CFA, RHIA

Robert Mohle, MBA, CFA, RHIA, is a professional interim HIM director with a diverse management and leadership background. He holds a RHIA and is a graduate of the Oregon Health and Science University HIM program. Mohle graduated from the US Naval Academy, is a former navy pilot, holds an MBA in Finance, and is a CFA Charterholder. He works on the front lines in HIM helping organizations increase efficiency and effectiveness through analyzing processes and implementing change. “It is a joy to see a more efficient process work and to see the personnel flourish and be part of the change process.” When not on assignment, Mohle spends his time hiking and boating near his home north of Seattle, WA.

Position Statement Answer

My strategic vision of AHIMA is a vibrant global organization that is the “go-to” resource for health information management best practices and credentialing. When a healthcare organization or a government or the public need guidance on an HIM topic, they turn to AHIMA and an AHIMA-credentialed professional. From India to Istanbul, hospitals know the brand and the value. Here is an example:

The CIO of Our Lady of Saint Sophia Medical Center, in downtown Istanbul, is concerned that the content and structure of her medical record is lacking. She knows that it is not on par with medical record systems she saw in the US, but is at a loss for how to upgrade and what to look for. But, luckily, she attended her European CIO Organization’s annual symposium in Brussels the year before, and there she attended an AHIMA-sponsored series of seminars on just this topic. She was drawn to AHIMA’s commitment to being objective. She was impressed how each seminar started with an explanation of the AHIMA code of ethics and the mission of the organization. Because her European CIO Organization had a reciprocal access agreement with AHIMA, she was able to download several articles on the subject from AHIMA’s Body of Knowledge including the “how to” outline that was described in her seminars. Next, she went to AHIMA’s professional consultant section and picked out three AHIMA-credentialed specialists to interview for further help.

How do we get there? By:

  • Focusing on quality and ethics
  • Structuring our content in a customer needs–focused manner
  • Partnering with other high-quality global organizations
  • Ensuring we have a strong financial base
  • Differentiating our brand
  • Believing in ourselves

How can I help? I have the unique 30-year background of finance, change management, and leadership that fosters positive change. Finally, I truly believe in AHIMA’s role of being the leader in US and global HIM.

Shawn C. Wells, BS, RHIT, CHDA

Shawn C. Wells, BS, RHIT, CHDA, has been in the HIM profession since 2003, currently serving as director of health information at University of Utah Health (UUH). While at UUH, Wells has implemented enterprise-wide computer-assisted coding, led UUH through the ICD-10 transition, and developed a new HIM team focusing on data integrity, analytics, and information governance. He is an active volunteer and mentor and sits on the Weber State University HIM Advisory Committee. He served as the Utah Health Information Management Association’s treasurer and president and was speaker of the AHIMA House of Delegates in 2019. Shawn is an active public speaker at the regional, national, and international level on topics of ICD-10, computer-assisted coding, data integrity, and emerging roles in HIM.

Position Statement Answer

AHIMA has been in a state of decline for some time. Much has been done over the past 18 months to transform AHIMA into a global healthcare leader, but there is still much work to do. I have extensive healthcare experience in a variety of settings: Acute and long-term care leadership, education, coding and clinical documentation integrity, analytics, software development, information technology, and project management. This experience has allowed me to develop an extensive professional network. Utilizing this network, I would effectively represent and promote AHIMA across the healthcare landscape.

I am also able promote AHIMA and develop our future leaders at my current employer. When I took over as director, we only had three non-coders who had credentials. We now have 16.

I participate in several governance groups at my current employer, including data, electronic health record, and information governance, and I chair the medical records committee. As speaker of the House of Delegates, I not only oversaw the governance of the House of Delegates, but also was a member of the Board of Directors Governance Committee. I have been an active part of governing both the AHIMA association and the HIM profession. As co-chair of the AHIMA Governance Task Force, I am helping shape the governance structure of AHIMA to align with our new Mission, Vision, and Strategic Plan.

Innovation is where I am the strongest. I led my organization through the implementation of ICD-10 while being a beta site for 3M 360 Encompass. We helped develop many of the features that are present in the software today. Currently we are developing another solution with 3M, 360 Audit. Lastly, I built a data integrity program from the ground up that has become an essential part of the success of my HIM department. All of these initiatives took a strong, innovative leader; see a problem, look at all the elements involved, understand the dependencies, and move things forward. These are the qualities that I would bring to the AHIMA Board of Directors were I fortunate enough to be elected.

Christine A. Williams, RHIA

Christine A. Williams, RHIA, is the document integrity manager at UW Health in Madison, WI. She is currently serving as the Speaker of the House of Delegates for AHIMA and has been an active delegate for AHIMA for the last five years. Williams has been involved in several AHIMA task forces and is currently involved in the Governance Task Force and Governance Committee. She is an established speaker and has specialty in engagement and conflict resolution. She has been recognized as the UW Employee of the Month, Working Mother of the Year (Working Mother Magazine), Rising Star, and for Distinguished Service for the Wisconsin Health Information Management Association.

Position Statement Answer

I currently serve as the Speaker of the House of Delegates for AHIMA and have the privilege of leading the Envisioning Collaborative team, sit on the Governance Task Force, and am a member of the Governance Committee. If elected, the experience of these teams and committees allow me to focus on contributing to the strategic plan.

This is a critical time for the transformation of AHIMA, we need to continue a progressive path amidst the crisis of COVID-19. I believe with my background and experience I am the best suited candidate to help AHIMA continue down this path. I feel confident, because of my personal belief and practice of transparent bi-directional communication. With the agility needed to sustain our place in the professional industry, communication will be the key. I am aware and in support of the communication initiatives AHIMA has with its members and CSAs, and by serving as a Director it will allow me to continue that transparency with great success!

Wylecia shared a few years ago that AHIMA is in a critical state of decline and ever since, I was empowered to make a difference. I also feel my exposure to the Professional Enhancement Campaign, coupled with my experience in public speaking allows me to advocate for these changes through social media, networking and working with the CSAs directly. As it relates to global initiatives, I am passionate about the work AHIMA is doing to be the House of Health Information for the world! Most recently I participated in a discussion with the AHIMA Foundation, in which we discussed potential opportunities. During the call I felt my heart beat, my palms sweat and instantly I began to smile. My body’s reaction was one of buy-in and excitement to contribute to something bigger than all of us! That passion coupled with the experience I have is a recipe for success on the Board! I would be blessed to continue my service to AHIMA in the role of Director and welcome any challenge that comes our way!

Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM) (Select Three)

Position Statement Question

The recognition of CCHIIM-certified professionals’ role in maintaining and enhancing quality health information for the safety of the public and the improvement of healthcare” is a core CCHIIM value. How do you see the Commission supporting this value in the rapidly changing healthcare environment?


Kelly F. Cooper, RHIA, CCS

Kelly F. Cooper, RHIA, CCS, is the HIM and HIPAA corporate compliance officer for nineteen Solaris facilities in Florida. She is a candidate for the Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS) credential and holds the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) and Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) credentials. She is an active volunteer at all three levels of Health Information Management Associations, serving in previous roles such as a regional HIM association’s President-elect, Chair of Florida HIMA Committees, and Co-Chair of the AHIMA Long-Term Post-Acute Care Practice Council. She is a mentor, public speaker and educator, and advocate for the HIM profession, patient rights, and health policy.

Position Statement Answer

I am sure others will agree with me that health information often feels like the final frontier, especially for those of us in “non-traditional” roles. At the core of who we are, Health Information Professionals (HIPs) are at home with constantly shifting foundations and an ever-changing status quo. We are a mission-critical area of healthcare that lives both, in and not in, the clinical and administrative side of healthcare. HIPs are constantly adapting and meeting the waves of change, while also charging forward to enhance patient care and data integrity. For that reason, I firmly believe the pathway to interoperability, enhanced quality of data, and enhanced patient care will come from HIP leadership. For that to happen however, there must be cutting-edge resources to keep HIPs at the forefront of industry trends and changes. As the Commission is a group of dedicated, future-focused HIPs, trendsetting and pathfinding should be standard procedures. The Commission builds the foundation from which HIPs garner the respect and pride befitting their education, training, and experience. To continue to trailblaze, the Commission must continue to collaborate with industry, government, and international partners to design, adapt, and mold our credentials and training, keeping HIPs at the cutting edge of health information technology. Additionally, I see the Commission supporting this core value by doing the following: embracing the digital expansion and globalization of healthcare via adding more online educational opportunities; stepping up to support Health Information expansion in “non-traditional” areas of healthcare via education, training, and certification support; and by continuing to gauge emerging and expanding roles as targets for future growth.

Sandra D. Frey, RHIT, CCS

Sandra D. Frey, RHIT, CCS, is currently employed as a Senior Coding and Quality Manager at UPMC in Pittsburgh, PA. She has held many positions over the course of her 30-year career such as coder, supervisor, manager, contract coder, educator, and vendor. She has coded, audited, and taught in-patient, out-patient, emergency room, same day surgery, hierarchical condition category, and physician coding. Frey is well-versed in coding, auditing, and managing the revenue cycle demands of facility and physician services.

She is a Registered Health Information Technologist and a Certified Coding Specialist credentialed through the American Health Information Management Association, a Certified Inpatient Coding Auditor through the Healthcare Financial Management Association, and a Six Sigma Yellow Belt.

Position Statement Answer

The CCHIIM has the important task of establishing, implementing, and enforcing standards and procedures for certification and re-certification of AHIMA certification programs. I feel CCHIIM can support the ever-changing healthcare environment by providing much need resources to AHIMA members. The current pandemic is an unprecedented example of the importance of having certified professionals. As every country in the world strives to overcome this pandemic, there are many people on the front lines depending on HIM professionals to submit daily statistics to gauge the growth, or hopefully decline, of infections. HIM professionals are also needed to assist with patient demographics, verifying insurances, electronically filing encounters, and accurately coding COVID-19 for all the testing centers. CCHIIM can support these endeavors by emphasizing the skill of the HIM workforce to governmental agencies and healthcare organizations. Certified professionals are the cornerstone of the HIM profession but the importance of becoming certified must be emphasized to all of those who are not. A grassroots initiative to boast the value of a credential is essential to the future of our profession and AHIMA. Reaching out to colleges and high schools may be appropriate to pull people into the HIM profession. Once interested, the importance of a credential should be highlighted because it shows employers a level of dedication to achieve and maintain a certification. The CCHIIM has an important role at AHIMA and it needs innovative thinking to grow and thrive. These initiatives can be accomplished by having commission members with various backgrounds and experiences who can collaborate to move forward toward the common goal of having competent professionals practicing HIM.

Ann Howard, MHA, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P

Ann Howard, MHA, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, is the Health Information Technology and Management program director at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, WY. She is volunteer Denver regional director and voting board member at Education First, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing college scholarships to disadvantaged students. She volunteers as lead faculty for concurrent high school enrollment health science instructors in Cheyenne, WY. Howard serves as advisory board member for bachelor’s- and associate’s-level programs nationally. She also volunteers with United Way, local charities, and non-profit organizations.

Position Statement Answer

In the rapidly changing healthcare environment, I see the Commission supporting the core value, “The recognition of CCHIIM-certified professionals’ role in maintaining and enhancing quality health information for the safety of the public and the improvement of healthcare” by maintaining national recognition as the most respected HIIM credentialing agency. High standards are maintained by continual revision of HIIM competencies the body of knowledge represented by the competencies and job analysis.

As an educator preparing my program for CAHIIM accreditation I am familiar with curriculum changes initiated by CEE. Higher level competencies highlight specialization and a foundation in HIIM and analytics. HIIM Reimagined strategies integrate skill sets. Essential in the changing healthcare environment is alignment between curriculum competencies and certification examinations.

CCHIIM processes reflect industry changes in examination content. Committees review content performance data. Job analysis quality control of relevancy, currency, and validity is assessed in examinations. Examination blueprints group competencies into weighted domains, criticality scores, and specifications. Processes safeguard recognition of CCHIIM-certified professionals’ role.

Professional certification standards ensure credentials reflect high levels of competency. Organizations recognize credentialed professionals deliver immediate skill application. Employee expertise supports CCHIIM-certified professionals’ role in enhancing quality health information.

The Commission supports the core value “The recognition of CCHIIM-certified professionals’ role in maintaining and enhancing quality health information for the safety of the public and the improvement of healthcare,” maintaining national recognition as the most respected HIIM credentialing agency. In the rapidly changing healthcare environment, Commission processes ensure consistent competency for HIIM professionals far into the future.

Regina L. Kraus, MSA, RHIA, CDIP, CPHQ

Regina L. Kraus, MSA, RHIA, CDIP, CPHQ, is an adjunct instructor for several online health information management programs and serves as a Quality Matters™ Higher Education Peer Reviewer and an AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer. Her experience is in healthcare administration and management concentrating on the behavioral health field, managing both inpatient psychiatric and outpatient mental health programs in Ohio. Kraus is a member of AHIMA and the Minnesota Health Information Management Association, serving on several subcommittees. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the Miami Valley Health Information Management Association in Ohio as well as board president for the Mental Health Association of Miami County.

Position Statement Answer

There has not been a more important time for all those involved in the healthcare profession to work collaboratively for the safety of the public, at least not in my lifetime. As credentialed healthcare professionals, we should strive to contribute to the quality of patient care and the safety of the patient by sharing our knowledge and working together to achieve that common goal. One of the issues or concerns raised during the current public health crisis is that perhaps the quality of data, or the management of that data, could be improved. As HIM professionals, there is an excellent opportunity to become more involved in the areas of data retrieval and analysis to better understand data needs as it relates to public health.

In such a rapidly changing healthcare environment, the Commission can support the value of recognizing the CCHIIM-certified professionals’ “role in maintaining and enhancing quality health information for the safety of the public and the improvement of healthcare,” by continuing to promote and enhance the importance of data-driven healthcare decision-making skills and healthcare informatics. This can be accomplished, in part, through the rigorous review of certification/recertification requirements for existing CCHIIM certifications, as well as opportunities for collaboration with other health information–driven fields and disciplines.

What is the unique skill set and management of those skills needed and deemed necessary to enhance the quality of health information for patient care? If we have learned that the quality and management of data needs to be improved, how do we demonstrate that the HIM professional is in a key and unique position to assist in that process? Understanding those skill sets and making sure AHIMA-based certifications reflect those skill sets, is an important role in helping to position CCHIIM-certified professionals and associated certifications among the rapidly changing healthcare environment.

Anissa D. McBreen, RHIT

Anissa D. McBreen, RHIT, is the interim HIT program coordinator and educator at Gateway College in Kentucky. She is a board member of the Ohio CSA association, has served on the AHIMA Long-Term Care Practice Council, and has over 27 years of experience working in health information. She has been a speaker for state and local health associations and has contributed to several blogs. Anissa will sit for her RHIA in June 2020.

Position Statement Answer

To be at the forefront of the rapidly changing healthcare environment, one needs to ensure their skills, attributes, and strengths are current. Over the years, I see where change has happened and how much we as a profession have learned to adapt to this change. How much better we are today and how instrumental we are in this growing industry. However, as a profession, we are not finished yet. We must keep up with the changes and continue to educate ourselves and push health information to the table. To put us at the table, we need support. This support needs to come from AHIMA and a commission that believes in this profession and works with passion. The CCHIIM impacts healthcare by connecting HIM and the healthcare industry. This support will bring us to the table and contribute to the changes that will impact the industry. I want to support and transform HIM and bring us to “head of the table” in the industry. I want to know that at the end of the day, I have made a difference in HIM.

Braden Michael Tabisula, MBA, RHIA, CHDA

Braden Michael Tabisula, MBA, RHIA, CHDA, is a knowledgeable educator with experience in health information management operations. Currently an assistant professor, he has over nine years of experience in health informatics and health information management, in hospital and higher education environments. He is passionate in delivering quality instructional design for online courses and utilizing analytical tools to provide data driven decisions. Tabisula is experienced in creating databases and spreadsheets for tracking performance and automating processes. He achieved an MBA with an emphasis on Information Systems, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Information Systems and Technology.

Position Statement Answer

Provide more frequent surveys on the currently credentialed workforce and the non-credentialed workforce. Gathering data on both is necessary because the HIIM professional is so diverse in roles and settings. There are people in the workforce who are not credentialed, but in the HIIM space, and then there are those who are credentialed, and not in the traditional HIIM space anymore. We need to ensure that the questions we ask our workforce are relevant and timely. By delivering this annually, the Commission can stay on top of the rapidly changing healthcare environment through the voice of our members. Survey results should go to credentialed individuals, members, HIIM leadership, and the organization’s HR and C-suite in order to advocate for professional credentials and inform organizations of the need for these unique employees.

Provide updates at no cost via webinar or virtual sessions. Most updates are given at conventions that have an associated cost, so there are groups that cannot be reached. A social media presence would also be a good way to reach more HIIM individuals. We need to know what the workforce is doing, what issues they face, and skills they feel are needed in their role. With this kind of data, we can develop appropriate standards for our credentials and update competencies. Without a deep knowledge base of reported skills, responsibilities, issues, and current trends in the workforce, it is difficult to define ourselves and what the credentials mean.

Looking at areas where numbers are diminishing is just as important as looking at growth. It would be interesting to investigate if we have an increase in individuals dropping credentials. It could indicate an opportunity to broaden our standards and competencies to reclaim those that have dropped their credentials. Credentials allows us to monitor the competencies of our professionals against standards we uphold; it allows us to ensure HIIM professionals are maintaining quality health information.

Council for Excellence in Education (CEE) Member (Select Two)

Position Statement Question

How do you feel about the current state of education in HIM, and where do you see the state of HIM in the future?


Mecredi Cruder, RHIA, CPC

Mecredi Cruder, RHIA, CPC, is an active duty Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army currently serving as the program director of the HIM branch at the Army Medical Center of Excellence in San Antonio, TX. She has 18 years of experience in HIM and strategic leadership. She serves as the 2020 President of the Alamo HIMA Chapter in San Antonio and on the Texas Health Information Association (TxHIMA) Conference committee. In 2018, she was a recipient of the AHIMA Undergrad/New Graduate Program and has also served on the AHIMA VLab Committee and TxHIMA Education Committee. Cruder is also an active member of ACHE, HIMSS, and AAPC.

Position Statement Answer

Current state of HIM education is stagnant. We have a great curriculum, but I feel in order to escalate us to the next level, we need to highlight strategic level leadership and promote synergy between other fields like public health or informatics to innovate the profession. This field has a dynamic curriculum yet falls short in really promoting diversity—meaning collaborative relationships with IT, healthcare administration, etc. to maintain our relevance. With the changes in the new curriculum, I think the sky will be limitless. In time, I truly think that we are headed toward producing students that will be more versed in effective communication, taking on nontraditional positions like CIO and exploring more leadership positions. I’m excited to see how this will nest with the new vision of AHIMA.

Mari C. Pirie-St. Pierre, MMI, RHIA, CPHI

Mari C. Pirie-St. Pierre, MMI, RHIA, CPHI, has over 30 years of experience in health information management. Recently, as a Quality Director, she worked with clinical staff to ensure clinical documentation integrity. Previously, she was the director of health informatics at NYS Office of Mental Health, focusing on electronic health records and HIE. Most of her career was as an HIM director. She received her RHIA credential in 2003 and CPHI in 2017. She has served her local association as a past president and secretary. From 2011-2014, she served on the Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM), chairing CCHIIM in 2013. She is a member of the AHIMA House of Delegates and participates in the HIT and Leadership Practice Council.

Position Statement Answer

AHIMA’s vision for transformation is to lay the foundation for innovation and greater impact within the healthcare ecosystem by 2022. Given the turn-around time for curriculum change, more time may be necessary for institutions to transform with us. Our vision, a world where trusted information transforms health and healthcare by connecting people, systems, and ideas, requires associations such as AHIMA, educational institutions, and workforce leaders and members to work even more closely together. The connection of educational institutions and systems, healthcare workforce members and leaders, and AHIMA is crucial to frame the current gaps and lay the groundwork for sustained improvements to keep up with ever-changing workforce needs. We need to acknowledge what educational institutions can accomplish and look to how AHIMA can continue to augment institutional learning through adaptive learning platforms. In today’s market, many employers expect new hires to be able to quickly get up to speed and immediately add value to organizations as they onboard. For career advancement, it is expected that workers understand complex organizational structures and apply analytical skills. Soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, interpersonal skills, teamwork, time management, are necessary commodities, and are not always garnered in educational institutions. In addition to the attainment of soft skills, there are expectations around the ease of use of technology, which is challenging for educational institutions to keep up with given the vast amount and ever emergence of new technologies. We are a passionate profession that prides itself on involvement, adaption, and fortitude. With the support of our association and profession leaders, we will be ahead of the curve when it comes to acquiring knowledge, skills, and assets to continue our mission of empowering people to impact health.

Heng (Jennifer) Sun, MHI, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P

Heng (Jennifer) Sun, MHI, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, is the hospital coding manager at Stanford Healthcare in Palo Alto, CA. Heng (Jennifer) has extensive knowledge on medical coding, electronic health system implementation, workflow process optimization, and computer-assisted coding (CAC) system usage. She has been actively involved in electronic health record (EHR) system implementation, workflow process design and optimization in different types of health organizations. Heng (Jennifer) has been working closely with IT and providers on charge capture automation and documentation query templates design. Heng is an advocate of electronic health record system implementation, coding CAC adoption, charge capture automation and healthcare data exchange.

Position Statement Answer

Current HIM’s education is focused on health information management, medical coding, improvements in clinical documentation and health data analysis. Managing health information is a key aspect of healthcare organizational operations. The healthcare reimbursement process relies on accurate medical coding; therefore, HIM’s education on medical coding is the key to make sure coders with coding credentials provide high quality work. HIM’s education on clinical documentation integrity is to help healthcare organizations provide better healthcare and accurate healthcare information. HIM’s education on health data analysis helps healthcare organizations analyze healthcare data and assists the healthcare leaders in improving healthcare outcomes.

Since more healthcare organizations implemented EHR systems, HIM professionals face many challenges. One of the challenges is how healthcare organizations collect health data and information generated by patient care. In order to monitor and analyze health data and information, healthcare organizations need EHR systems to collect and route the health data to different locations or work queues. HIM education on healthcare workflow process design and analysis will help health data and information collection and also improve healthcare operation. Another topic on HIM education is EHR design and work process optimization. Many healthcare providers find that the EHR system is not user friendly, specifically, providers cannot find the functions they are looking for and do not have time in their busy schedules to learn the EHR system. On the other hand, Health IT professionals have difficulty understanding the needs of health care professionals. HIM professionals have valuable knowledge about healthcare information requirements and understand healthcare operation and procedures; HIM education should help HIM professionals become the bridge between healthcare providers and health IT professionals to make certain successful EHR system implementation and utilization.

Amanda M. Walden, PhD, RHIA, CHDA

Amanda M. Walden, PhD, RHIA, CHDA, is a faculty member at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL. She has taught full-time in the Health Informatics and Information Management Program since 2012. She teaches small and large class sizes, with both face-to face and online delivery. Her experience in acute care, physician practices, and behavioral health, brings real-world knowledge into the classroom. She completed her PhD in 2018 with a focus on health information privacy. She has served at all levels and has held leadership positions at the regional and state levels. She has served as a speaker on topics relevant to HIM and education at numerous events including AHIMA’s Academy on Education and HIMSS’s AUPHA Academic Forum.

Position Statement Answer

HIM Education is in a state of transition, more evident by this recent crisis than ever before. Programs were already trying to integrate online aspects and dealing with shortages of professional practice experience (PPE) sites. Those transitions will be increased ten-fold over the next year or two. We still do not know how the future of higher education will be affected by this crisis, but we must be looking a mile down the road to see what is coming. Many institutions were not prepared for online education which has led to programs being unable to continue for the school year. Instructors have been hesitant for years to move towards online learning. This is much like the issues we saw when hospitals and doctors were forced to adapt to EHRs, no one likes change but if it is the future we must embrace it and figure out how to do it right. Many feel that online learning loses something from face to face instruction, but I feel that we do not necessarily lose something, we just gain things from a different perspective. In terms of the PPE sites, we have already been experiencing strains trying to find student placements in the past, we must now be creative, and AHIMA needs to lead the forefront in coming up with alternatives that are still acceptable to the future employers of our students while providing flexibility. We must recognize the impact our student’s current lives have on their ability to complete traditional internships and find alternatives, especially when we have a shortage of sites. Overall, the healthcare field will look drastically different in the next two years. In order to make sure there is enough workforce to meet the demand, we need to do our best to focus on ways we can have competent, well-trained graduates that can be fluid and adapt to the changing environment.

Speaker-elect of the House of Delegates (Select One)

The 2020-21 Delegates will elect the Speaker-elect of the House and the 2021 AHIMA Nominating Committee members. Voting will take place August 3, 2020 – 8:00 a.m. CT through August 14, 2020 – 5:00 p.m. CT.

Position Statement Question

AHIMA’s mission is empowering people to impact health. How will you utilize your industry experience, governance expertise, and ability to innovate and transform to support AHIMA’s position as a global healthcare association?


Laura E. Blabac, MS, RHIA, CHDA

Laura E. Blabac, MS, RHIA, CHDA, is a senior capability manager in the UnitedHealth Group Research and Development division. A seasoned HIM and HIT expert, she has worked in operations support and as a business analyst/project lead in the HIM profession for 16 years, in integrated health systems, academic medicine, and pediatric specialty care. An educator at heart, Blabac has additionally worked to design HIM-related courses and as an adjunct faculty member for associate level programs. She has also served as a KFA lead for the Professional Development and Education committee, co-chair and KFA for the Marketing and Communications committee, and a term as president and delegate of the Minnesota Health Information Management Association.

Position Statement Answer

In 1998, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined empowerment as “…a social, cultural, psychological or political process through which individuals and social groups are able to express their needs, present their concerns, devise strategies for involvement in decision-making, and achieve political, social and cultural action to meet those needs” (Health promotion glossary, Geneva, Switzerland). Although 20-plus years old as a definition, I find that the description of what empowerment is for patient promotion is directly analogous to what empowerment is within the context of AHIMA’s mission today, both as a House that governs the profession and as a global healthcare association with the collective expertise to reshape the healthcare paradigm. To answer the question of how I will utilize my own skills to innovate and transform, to support AHIMA’s position: foremost, I see using my experience as an educator and professional to listen intently, to ask powerful questions and to attempt to inspire those governing our profession and our association to think expansively about the role we play in the transformation of healthcare. I will use my experience as a past board leader to facilitate the management and administration of the policies and procedures of AHIMA, to uphold its Code and to address the issues that may arise. I will use my experience as an analyst to identify national and international trends and support AHIMA’s ability to meet them. I will use my experience as a capability manager to empower innovative thinking, to ask the question, “how could we see/consider/do something differently to achieve the end goal we seek?” Empowerment begins with an individual, but ultimately takes the community to achieve the larger goals. I will utilize the skills I have to address whatever the need is that is present and to facilitate the actions necessary to achieve AHIMA’s mission.

Jeannine P. Cain, MSHI, RHIA, CPHI

Jeannine P. Cain, MSHI, RHIA, CPHI, is a business analyst, real world data at Ciox Health. She has been a volunteer on the Data Analytics Practice Council, Advocacy and Policy Practice Council, Envisioning Collaborative, Consumer Engagement Task Force, Government Task Force, and House Leadership team for AHIMA and as President, Director and BOD member of AAHIM. Cain’s professional experience encompasses billing, medical records, data analysis, product development, and more. With a BS in HIM and RHIA certification and a MS in Health Informatics and CPHI certification, she centers goals around advocating for the correct design of systems to capture and apply information in the right context and with the proper governance to positively impact healthcare.

Position Statement Answer

In 2013, I returned to school to pursue my Master’s in Health Informatics at UAB because of my passion to employ high-grade user experience in healthcare technology for insights and accuracy. I want to be a part of identifying and advocating for the best possible system designs to ensure information is collected and delivered in the right context while integrating proper governance. My professional experience, along with my volunteer experience on the AHIMA Informatics and Data Analytics Council, AHIMA Advocacy and Policy Practice Council, etc. have also provided great opportunities for me to work and engage with others to help lead this mission forward.

Our profession is very unique because we hold information that can change the world and we need to look no further than our news headlines today, to see that human healthcare issues have no borders and the importance of sharing information and empowering people to impact health, has never been greater. I want to be a part of this process, to help champion these efforts and fully support AHIMA’s position as a global healthcare association.

Special thanks to the 2020 AHIMA Nominating Committee:


Lauren W. Manson, RHIA

Committee Members:

Benjamin W. Burton, JD, MBA, RHIA, CHPS, CHC, CRC, CPC
Mona Y. Calhoun, MS, MEd, RHIA, FAHIMA
Ann F. Chenoweth, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA
Susan D. Clark, RHIT, CHTS-IM, CHTS-PW
Dianna M. Foley, RHIA, CHPS, CDIP, CCS
Marie I. Gardenier, MBA, RHIA, CHPS, PMP, FAHIMA
Grissel Pabon, MS, RHIA, CDIP, CCS, CCS-P
Diann H. Smith, MS, RHIA, CHP, FAHIMA

Ex-Officio Member—AHIMA CEO:

Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE

AHIMA’s election results will be announced via E-Alert in late July.

ahima.org/vote | #AHIMAVOTES